Mostly when it comes to taking care of our pet dogs, we stick to good nutrition, exercise, training, outdoor activities, regular health checkups, etc. What we tend to ignore as a dog parent is the oral hygiene of our little furry friends.
Just like humans, dogs eat a variety of foods throughout the day. Some of that food leaves its residues behind in the mouth of the dogs too.
We humans essentially brush our teeth every day at least once. Just like us, the dogs need to feel fresh and healthy. Oral hygiene is often ignored and the most important aspect of it is dog dental care.
Facts about dental health
Fact #1: According to some research worldwide, around 80% of dogs develop some sort of dental disease by the age of 2-3. Whenever dogs have food, there always remains some leftover food particles in the mouth. Those leftover particles when mixed with saliva which is already present in the mouth, create plaque.
Fact #2: Plaque is a sticky substance in nature. It gets built up in and around the mouth, especially on the teeth. When watching from naked eyes, it is invisible. But it is present on the teeth which makes it extremely difficult for a dog parent to treat it.
Fact #3: If it is left untreated for long durations, this plaque changes its form and transforms into a new substance called Tartar. To remove tartar, only professional help from a vet can do it.
Also Read:- Dog Health Problems & Care
Fact #4: Even if you take professional help and follow the same routine that your dog was used to, plaque will again form on the teeth. The moment your dog will have food, it will form.
Fact #5: Again the leftover food will be mixed with the saliva in the mouth and form a Plaque. The Plaque will again transform itself into Tartar. This cycle will continue as long as the dog is living and eating.
To avoid this level of discomfort and pain a dog can go through, it is essential for a dog parent to take care of the dog’s dental care.
This article is going to help you in this case. Hold on and sip coffee, this is all you need to become aware of a dog’s dental care. This is going to help the ones who are dog parents or the ones who are prospective dog parents.
Why dental care?
There are a variety of reasons why it is essential to take care of teeth and dental care altogether. The prominent reason is the long-term health of your dog. If you take care of their dental hygiene, you can make sure that they would be free of dental diseases most probably and live a healthy life in that aspect.
If the oral is healthy, the dogs will always feel fresh and energetic just like us humans, their teeth will be healthy for a long time and they will be able to eat all their foods, etc without experiencing any discomfort and pain in the mouth.
Maintaining the good oral health of a dog is beneficial for the people living with the dog too as they would not experience foul smells from the mouth of their dog and it would be a pleasant experience to be next to each other.
How to take care of your dog’s dental health?
Like humans, dogs desire regular dental care. It plays a very important part in their overall health. All your efforts of maintaining good nutrition, regular checkups, exercise, training will go in vain if you do not take care of their oral health.
If you are planning to adopt a dog or you already are a dog parent, It is advisable to start this dental care routine in your dog’s lifestyle. Earlier you start, the more beneficial it would be for your little pup to live a healthy life.
Initially, your dog might resist and not like it. But treat them like a human child, they also don’t like a lot of their routines but over time realize their importance. You should be consistent no matter how much your dog dislikes it, over a period of time they will get accustomed to this habit. You just need to be patient and tolerant initially but never stop.
Brushing The Teeth
Gather the essentials first. You need a toothbrush preferably a dog toothbrush. Find a toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste on dogs. This is really hazardous for them as they have certain ingredients which can prove fatal to dogs.
It’s easy nowadays to find dog toothpaste either in pet shops or online. Buy one, it’s going to last long.
Once you are ready with the essentials, you need to brush their teeth. The vets recommend that brushing the dog’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week is enough. You don’t need to do it daily like humans. Along with that, ensure a regular dental checkup, preferably annually.
When it comes to brushing their teeth for the first time before making it a routine, it is advisable to go slow and jump altogether on the very first day with brushing.
Below is given the ideal way for you to start your journey with your dog in their dental care routine.
- The 1st Day– Go slow. Start by touching your dog’s teeth and gums with your fingers only so that they can feel that it’s not a foreign act. You need to make your dog habitual to getting their teeth and gums touched at first. They need to feel the sensation for the first time.
- The 2nd Day – Repeat what you did on day one so that they know that this is something normal and can be done to me. Along with normal touching in and around the teeth and gums, take a little toothpaste on your finger and let your dog lick it. Once they lick it, they will like the taste as the dog toothpaste is deliberately made the way that the dogs like.
- The 3rd Day– Here, combine day one and day two. Basically, take the toothpaste on your finger and touch the teeth and gums of your dog along with toothpaste on your finger. It will ensure that you will rub and apply toothpaste all around the teeth and gums of your dog.
You need to do this in a circular motion with soft fingers. At the same time, you will clean the teeth of your dog indirectly.
- The 4th Day– Now is the perfect time to introduce the most important element. You can now introduce the toothbrush. But before that, you need to ensure that your dog doesn’t treat toothbrushes as some sort of chewable toy to play with. Make him understand the seriousness of the tool and gently by soft hand, touch the toothbrush to his gums and teeth.
Please be very gentle because if it causes discomfort to your dog they will run away and it will make the task further difficult for you.
- The 5th Day– Since this is the fifth day of feeling the same sensation, your dog will be a little more comfortable with the taste of toothpaste and with the feeling of the toothbrush. Now you are ready to do it formally.
Take a little toothpaste on the toothbrush of your dog. In a little circular motion, start rubbing the toothbrush on the teeth and gums of your dog. Do it really slowly and gently. Do not miss either side of the teeth and all around the gums.
The thing that you finally did on day 5th is what you need to do at least 2-3 times a week. This will ensure that your dog does not deal with plaque or at worse tartar. It will ensure dental care for your little furry creature.
The Regular Vet CheckUps
- Even if you are regular with the brushing routine of your dog from the very start, you can not be an expert. There is no undermining of regular dental checkups preferably annually to your vet.
- Take your dog to the vet for a complete inspection in addition to the routine that you are following. The vet checkup is supplementary to the brushing of teeth at least 2-3 times a week.
- Just like we humans, even if we brush our teeth once or mostly twice a day, we also go to the dentist for regular check-ups to ensure that we are healthy orally.
The same goes with dogs too. Irrespective of them looking healthy and not facing any problem, you can not undermine the value of regular visits to the vet.
- The vet can do the professional cleaning of the teeth and gums which might not be possible to do at home as we do not have enough supplies and expertise in the department.
- The professional cleaning by the vet can thoroughly clean the mouth of the dogs, in the places where you could not. The toothbrush can not reach all around the mouth. Besides, you don’t even know what and how to do oral hygiene. So it’s always better to approach the vet once in a while.
- As always, prevention is better than cure. Your little effort will ensure that your dog leads a healthy and painless life in at least the oral health department.
How to ensure dental health?
- Regular Observation of your Dog’s Teeth
In most cases, just like humans, dogs will also develop some symptoms before the actual disease. Since we are talking about dental care, we need to keep a regular check on the teeth and gums of our dog as a dog parent.
Always have a look inside their mouth to find something unusual. If very, unfortunately, you can see your dog going through some sort of pain, or if you see them having difficulty in chewing, you need to take them to the vet.
It is really difficult to look for signs of pain as, unlike humans, dogs can’t speak of what they are going through. They might feel immense pain and would not know what to do about it. So you need to be extremely diligent if you have decided to be a dog parent.
- The Breath of the Dog
This can really help. If the dog is going through some sort of dental problem, their breath won’t smell like their usual breath. Obviously, you are never going to experience a minty smell out of your dog’s mouth but the normal/usual smell is what we are focussing upon here.
If you notice an especially foul smell in your dog’s breath, it might be a warning sign, not only of dental problems but of any other disease too as a foul smell is a signal of a lot of other diseases. One recommendation, see the vet.
- During Brushing their Teeth
While brushing their teeth, always keep an eye on any signs of bleeding, swelling, cuts, or discolouration in and around the mouth. The actual color of most of the breeds of dogs’ gums is pink, not white, brown, or red.
If you notice something other than pink and anything else, see the vet. Try to check if they have any kind of lumps, bumps, etc inside their mouth, on the gums. See if they are comfortable in playing with a chewing toy, do they avoid it or they are happily playing with that little toy.
Check if there are signs of any loose teeth and gums leaving teeth or missing teeth. Observe if your dog is resisting the touch in the areas around the teeth which he did not resist before. That can be a sign of them feeling something unpleasant there now.
- Other Signs
What you need to keep an eye on, in general, is their appetite, if they are eating their usual food with the same energy, etc. Observe if they are energetic just the way they used to be.
Are they still playful or lethargic as diseases take away this trait foremost? If they have digestion issues or if your pooch is vomiting. These are the general signs you need to look for in any kind of health problem that your pooch might experience.
What if you feel brushing the teeth of your dog is a huge task someday?
Not all days are going to be the same obviously. There might be days when you are too tired from work and do not have the energy to spend some more time with your dog brushing their teeth. What if you do not have essentials someday? Well, the market has come to the rescue of such days.
There are a few alternatives present in the market listed below. Choose accordingly. You can find them either in pet shops or online.
- Dental wipes– This is one easy way to continue with the routine of cleaning the teeth of your dog. Buy some dental wipes, specifically made for dogs from the market. They can work equally as well as the combination of toothbrush and toothpaste if not better. You simply need to take one wipeout, secure the other ones properly for future use. Rub the wipe all around the teeth to remove the plaque that develops on the teeth and gums. Rub the wipe around each and every tooth to ensure proper cleaning.
- Dental Chews– They come to the rescue when you don’t exactly have time for either brushing their teeth or even wiping them off. At such times, buy a few dental chews from the market. Pop one into your dog’s mouth. Dogs have a natural habit of chewing. They will keep on chewing the dental chew you give to them. It will also keep the mouth healthy.
The dog’s dental chews have enzymes that work out to provide good dental health to your dog. They break up the accumulated plaque and tartar in the mouth and keep the mouth clean overall. Before buying, make sure you read the ingredients. Ensure that the ones you choose are free of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary chemicals. They might not be good for the long-term health of your dog.
Though there can be no alternative to brushing altogether at least 2-3 times a week, the two alternatives given above can come to the rescue. Whatever the situation is, make sure you do not overlook this aspect of your dog’s health. Often dog parents forget the dental care of their dogs. It makes it painful for the dogs and parents too in the long term. It’s always better to prevent the disease than to look for the cures available. It saves time, pain, money, and discomfort.
Good luck to you if you already are a dog parent. Start the routine as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. And if you are a prospective dog parent, you just got lucky to know this even before having a dog. Now you know how to deal with their dental health from the start itself.
Have a happy and healthy life with your little pooch!